3 out of 5ModerateMoving the heavy stones is the only difficult part
About $1,000 and up
3 to 4 hours
In this video, This Old House landscape contractor Roger Cook shows how to create durable, beautiful stone steps.
Steps for Building Granite Front Steps
- Measure and mark the porch for the location of the new stone stairs.
- Dig out the dirt in front of the porch to a depth of 24 inches, or until reaching well-draining soil.
- Add about 4 inches of ¾-inch crushed stone to the bottom of the hole. Spread the stone evenly with a shovel.
- Compact the stone base with either a hand tamper or gas-powered compactor.
- Add another 4 inches of stone, and compact again. Repeat until the hole is completely filled with compacted stone.
- Cover the compacted stone base with landscape fabric.
- Spread about 2 inches of stone dust over the landscape fabric, then compact it with a hand tamper. Be sure the stone dust is a bit higher in the back to provide the proper pitch to the steps.
- Lay two 4x4s across the stone dust bed, then set the first granite step into place using a forklift, if necessary.
- Use a long pry bar and third 4×4 as a fulcrum to lift one end of the granite step and pull out the 4×4. Repeat to remove the opposite 4×4.
- Check to ensure the step is centered on the porch and the correct distance from the front of the porch.
- Install short granite fillers, called cheeks between the rear of the step and the porch. Tap down the cheeks with a rubber mallet.
- Fill in the space behind the step and between the cheeks with crushed stone. Compact the stone with a hand tamper.
- Cover the compacted stone with landscape fabric and stone dust. Compact the stone dust with a hand tamper.
- Use a small sledgehammer to drive a ½-inch-diameter x 18-inch-long rebar pin alongside each granite cheek. Leave about 2 inches of each pin protruding from the ground.
- Slide the second granite step into place on top of the first step.
- Check the pitch of each step with an 18-inch level. Be sure the steps pitch down slightly away from the porch.